Winter break cemented a truth for me. I like having my kids under the same roof, but not alone (for long stretches of time). So, while everyone else was happy to have their kids back in school after the new year, I was focused on a different start date — January 21, 2020, when my beloved University of Iowa babysitters returned.
Our babysitters have become an important part of our family, more important than they probably realize.
The Ad I Originally Wrote for Our Babysitters
“Looking for another set of hands to help with my four young daughters. Will sometimes involve driving to activities and assisting with light housework (picking up toys, folding laundry, etc). I am a stay at home mom (SAHM) so this is not a traditional nannying job.”
What I Really Meant
I’m drowning. In toys, dirty dishes, laundry and requests. I’m still not sleeping through the night, and I feel like all I do is think about food for these hungry mouths.
I feel better when my house is tidy, but it does not come naturally to me. Plus, I have un-doers following me around.
I absolutely love being a mother but who knew so much of it at this phase would involve housework, and how do they seem to know when I’m most worn down to push my buttons?
Everyone is fed, safe and loved . . . but I’m not quite sure the last time the twins bathed. My middle child could really use her hair brushed, and I feel guilty I’m not reading to everyone as much as I used to.
I also miss talking to adults. I consider you an adult, by the way. You’re still in school, but responsible and looking to the future with that infectious anything-is-possible energy.
Can you bring some of your rested vibes into our home? And play on the floor with my kids, or fold laundry so I can? I feed off moods so seeing you flitter around will help me pretend I slept eight hours and can tackle tasks head on.
Can you hold one baby so that I can love on the other one? And give me a nudge to leave the house sometimes (once you feel comfortable)?
Also, what’s going on in the outside world? I keep up with the news, but I missed entire fashion trends while rotating between my maternity and nursing wardrobes. Is “So You Think You Can Dance” or “Grey’s Anatomy” still a thing on TV?
My family lives about a thousand miles away, my husband works a lot, and it’s hard. Your energy, love for kids, and dependability will give me the support I need to be a mom my girls deserve.
And what will you get in return? Well I won’t be able to pay you nearly enough, but I can promise our house will be a departure from your normal collegiate life. It’s full of chaos, crumbs, and shrieks but also love, snuggles and giggles. You’ll probably learn a few things about breastfeeding and cooking to file away for later should you decide to be a mother. It may not be the time management and staying-cool-under-pressure stuff you talk about in job interviews, but I can’t think of better real-life experience.
Mostly, you’ll get my profound appreciation and my daughters’ admiration.
I hope I can show you that even though I may seem frazzled and reminisce a little too much about when I was your age, motherhood is the most amazing gift. It is the deepest, most life-changing love, but this love is better realized with support.
If you become a mother one day, seek out people who will help you as much as you’ve helped us. Know you can always text or call me. We might even have a babysitter for you by then . . .